Pictured at the launch of the Games on 14 August at the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary are (l-r): James Halpin (Cahir Fire Station), Dearan O’Gorman (Nenagh Fire Station), Dave Carroll (Chief Fire Officer, Tipperary Fire Services) and David Higgins (Cashel Fire Station) at the launch of the Games (14 August) which will take place at Thurles Fire Station.

Firefighters from Tipperary will battle it out in a test of physical fitness and endurance at the inaugural Setanta Fire Service Games at Thurles Fire Station on Saturday 14 September.  

Teams from every fire station in Tipperary will compete in challenges including a fire-engine pull, a ‘hang tough’, tyre-flipping, box-jumping, and timed runs, with many activities to be completed wearing full firefighting equipment, before the winning team will be awarded the Setanta Cup. 

Pictured at the iconic Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary for the Games’ launch (l-r): Paul Gallagher (Assistant Fire Chief, Tipperary Fire Services) with Dearan O’Gorman (Nenagh Fire Station), David Higgins (Cashel Fire Station) and James Halpin (Cahir Fire Station).

The event marks the culmination of an 18-month wellness programme that has been pioneered by Tipperary Fire Services in partnership with sports course provider Setanta College. It was developed to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of firefighters across Tipperary – 11 firefighters who completed diplomas in Personal Training, Strength and Conditioning are now designated wellness officers in their respective stations and work on these programmes for their colleagues on an ongoing basis.

Dave Carroll, Tipperary County Council’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “Firefighting is a hugely demanding job, both mentally and physically. The majority of our team are retained firefighters, so they’re typically juggling their firefighting duties with a full-time job, thereby placing extra demands on their physical and mental wellbeing.

A tug of war for the Setanta Cup at the launch of the Games on the Rock of Cashel! Pictured (l-r): Luke Jordan and Chloe Williamson from Setanta College, Dearan O’Gorman (Nenagh), David Higgins (Cashel), James Halpin (Cahir), with Tipperary’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Gallagher and Chief Fire Officer Dave Carroll.

“In recent years, we identified the need to improve the physical wellbeing of our firefighters, and Setanta College came on board to develop a bespoke training programme. This has given our team-members the skills to not only improve their own health and wellbeing, but also to share their knowledge with their colleagues, and to develop a culture of positive physical and mental wellbeing in all fire stations in Tipperary.

“Each fire station in the county is now being equipped with a gym, marking our commitment to investing in the wellbeing of our fire-fighters.  We believe this is a truly ground-breaking and important programme, with the potential to be replicated by Fire Services nationwide,” Tipperary’s fire chief noted.

Carroll, who suffered a stroke in recent years, has now regained full physical fitness, which he said is due to the Setanta College programme.  “Physical wellbeing is important for everyone, no matter what profession you’re in.  Thanks to the support of my colleagues and our shared focus on wellness, I have been able to improve my own health and fitness to the point where I will compete in the Setanta Fire Service Games,” he said.

Carroll pointed out that the Games are the culmination of almost two years of hard work by Tipperary firefighters and a chance for them to show what they’ve learned, as well as introducing a bit of healthy competition amongst the fire stations in the county.

Chloe Williamson from Setanta College keeps her hands on the Setanta Cup, which will be presented to the overall winning team on 14 September – despite the best efforts of David Higgins (Cashel), Dearan O’Gorman (Nenagh) and James Halpin (Cahir)!

Dr Liam Hennessy, former international athlete and founder of Setanta College, said that the innovative training programme for firefighters will help them increase their fitness, improve their nutrition, and remain injury-free when responding to a crisis. 

“Tipperary County Council has demonstrated real leadership in safeguarding the physical and mental health of its firefighters.  The upcoming Setanta Fire Service Games is a memorable way to mark the achievements of those who have participated in the wellness programme – and to demonstrate to emergency services nationwide the importance of cultivating strong physical and mental health amongst their teams.”